30 Things to Do When Your Virtual Assistant Business is Slow
Unfortunately, every business owner experiences highs and lows, even virtual assistants. One year, you could be gaining new clients through referrals, building an empire, and making more money than ever before. The next, you could be struggling to get by with limited clients.
Whether you transitioned to virtual assisting as a result of Covid-19, or you are a veteran virtual assistant, you’ve probably faced some recent hurdles. You may have lost clients altogether or had clients cut back on your services, but you’ve got the right attitude; instead of worrying, you’re looking for some ways to get back on top.
We’ve got 30 ways to help give your virtual assistant business a boost.
#1: Boost Your Skillset
A great thing to do for your business when things are slow is to learn a new skill. This will allow you to charge more for your services and attract new clients.
If you’re unsure what skills to focus on, think about your client base and their needs. Do you often work with Excel? PowerPoint? Brush up on your skills by doing the work you do most often for your clients more credible.
There are many ways to learn a new marketable skill. Read a book (I share some of my favourites here), take an online course, join a Membership, or even watch a YouTube tutorial. Your clients will appreciate you telling them you offer more than you did before.
#2: Focus on Marketing
Give some serious thought to what has worked best to attract clients, and think about what you can do better.
Now is a great time to create a logo if you don’t already have one. Branding is everything. Use the extra downtime to think about the colours and graphics you use on your social media, website, and emails. Are you talking to an ideal client? Sometimes we get a little lazy and focus on the wrong stuff.
If you aren’t already active on LinkedIn, it’s not too late to start! Many people start here when looking for assistants. Make sure you have a company LinkedIn page – if you have one, have you made sure that all of the relevant fields are up to date.
#3: Take a Much-Needed Break
Remember, it’s okay to take a break and slow down a little! Getting some rest and restoration now will prevent you from getting burnt-out later.
Try out a new hobby, such as cooking or knitting. Even hobbies that aren’t directly related to your work can be great inspiration for blogs or social media posts. Also when you take a break, you can often give your brain the space to get creative and possibly come up with new services or packages.
#4: Edit Your Website
If you don’t already have a website, now is the time to create one!
If you already have a website, take this opportunity to update and edit it. Make sure your current prices and services are listed and that you link to your social media pages and blog if you have them.
Your website will be the most important first impression of you; take this time to treat it with care.
#5: Tidy Your Office Space
A slow period for business is a great opportunity to tidy or revamp your office space. If you’re going to have virtual meetings with clients, you want them to see that your space is organised and inviting.
A fresh coat of paint or a new piece of artwork can elevate your environment. I find that when I clear the clutter, it’s as if I am telling the universe I am open to receiving new clients.
#6: Check-In On Your Clients
Be sure to check in on clients, especially past clients who have perhaps scaled back their services with you.
Consider sending out a greeting card, either virtually or good old traditional snail mail. Ask past clients if they need minor assistance or if they know someone who does.
Be sure to thank current clients for working with you. It’s worth thinking how you can add value to clients while checking in with them – could you send them a blog post or book you think they might enjoy.
There are plenty of virtual networking opportunities. Join a Facebook group or forum and start connecting with other virtual assistants and people in your field. You may find someone you can collaborate with or someone who can connect you to new clients.
#8: Set Up a Mailing List
Mailing lists are a great way to keep in touch with past, current, and prospective clients, we share 5 reasons why you need to create a mailing list in this past VACT blog. Whenever you are offering new services or promotions, you can easily let everyone on your mailing list know. Perhaps you need to create a lead magnet or refresh an existing one.
If you already have a mailing list, now is a good time to cleanse it, getting rid of inactive subscribers who haven’t engaged with your content or utilised your services in a long time.
Be sure your website has a link to sign up for your mailing list! Have you tested it recently? Now is a great time to test it.
#9: Organise Your Files
Take a day or two to organise and de-clutter both your physical office files and your computer files. When business picks up again, you’ll have an easier time finding old files and paperwork quickly.
Make sure your filing system is intuitive and consistent. Consider using a virtual data room (VDR) instead of cloud-based applications for secure storage and file transfer between clients. If you use something like Dropbox or Onedrive have you backed up to an external location?
#10: Start a Blog
Blogging can be a great way to drive traffic to your site and help your clients get to know you. It’s a tactic to keep people engaged with your brand, even if they currently don’t need your services.
Consider blogging topics relevant to your current clients or your desired client base, which will encourage readers to learn more about you and what you offer. Here’s a list of easy and essential blog posts every VA business should have.
#11: Revisit Your Pricing
It’s a good idea to revisit your pricing and update it as needed. You might think it makes sense to lower your prices a bit in slow periods but I would caution against it.
Offer sales and limited-time deals to promote products and encourage users to buy premium packages for less. Are you wondering if you should have your pricing on your website? Personally I recommend selling as you like to buy – so if you are put off from a site that doesn’t display pricing then you need to show your prices on your site. I don’t agree with the VA Trainers who tell you not to include it because it encourages conversation – they are waffling to you – it doesn’t! Show your pricing!
#12: Research Your Competitors
You can learn a lot from your competitors. What strategies do they use that you could benefit from trying? Take a look at the websites and social media pages of your top competition.
It’s also a good idea to see how your competitors have changed their pricing and services during this slow period. You don’t want to be charging exorbitantly more than people offering similar services to you. On our free resources page there is a workbook you can work through to help you research your competitors.
#13: Consider Automation
Do you have any processes that could easily be automated? Some examples are onboarding, sending or paying invoices and scheduling social media posts.
Now is a great time to consider automating processes that could save you time when business picks back up.
#14: Take Fresh Photos
If you’ve recently cleaned or updated your office space, take some new photos for your website. It’s also a good idea to update any photos of yourself on your website or social media pages.
#15: Develop New Services
Consider new services that would be attractive to your clients and roll them out. Set yourself apart from the competition by staying active in this slow period.
#16: Create a Survey For Your Clients
Create a survey for your clients and send it to them. Many people have more time on their hands than you realise; they might be willing to complete a survey if you offer something in return.
Ask your clients what they like most about your services and what they could use more support with. This will help you actively make your services more valuable and more appealing to clients.
#17: Ask Past Clients For Testimonials or Case Studies
Take receiving feedback a step further and ask for testimonials. There’s nothing more assuring to prospective clients than social proof. Ask clients that have had positive experiences with you to share their words, and build your own testimonials page on your site.
#18: Learn SEO
Understanding how to utilise SEO is an asset for any freelancer or a business owner. Take the time to learn about SEO, whether you watch a YouTube video or take a full course. We have webinars in the VA Membership on these subjects.
Use SEO on your website to drive more clients to your site from Google searches! Tools like Meta descriptions and tags can make a world of difference.
#19: Create Email Templates
You may send many emails with similar information or language. Take some time to build a library of email templates – or canned responses.
When business picks up again, you’ll easily be able to copy and paste email templates and fill in any additional details. This will help you communicate with a lot of clients quickly and effectively.
#20: Try Video Marketing
Video marketing is more effective than print ads and might be what you need to engage new clients. Try filming a video of yourself describing one of your services and post it on your website or social media pages.
This helps prospective clients get to know you better. People are often more likely to watch a video than read several paragraphs of information. The search engines love it when people spend protracted time on your website – video can keep people on your site for longer.
#21: Join a Webinar, Membership, take a course
A slow business period is a good opportunity to increase your knowledge and expand the type of projects you can take on.
Enrol in an online class or register for a virtual conference, join a training Membership and you may even walk away with new connections (business friends or even clients) from other students.
#22: Analyse Client Data
It’s always a good idea to get to know your clients better. What services do they value most? What are their goals and their needs?
All of this is information that can help you with marketing and sales. How do your customers describe their problems and their needs? You can use this language on your website to describe how your services can help customers.
If you haven’t used Google Analytics before, give it a try. It helps you understand where your website traffic is coming from and who views your website.
#23: Upgrade Your Technology
Have you been putting off updating your phone or computer? Now is the time to do it. Consider investing in new software or even a new phone, laptop, or computer.
Have you always wanted a headset? A new printer? Don’t feel bad about spending a little money, even though business is slow. When things pick back up again, you’ll be grateful your technology is running smoothly.
#24: Register Your Business or enter an Award
The paperwork that comes with registering your business and making it official can be time-consuming. Get it out of the way now while you don’t have as much on your plate! Or if you have done this, take some time to research awards (both within the VA Industry and beyond) and enter them. These can be great for getting a little press for your business.
#25: Create and Schedule Social Media Posts
If you use social media for marketing your business, now is the perfect time to create a backlog of content.
When things get busy again, you’ll have posts and content ready to go and will be able to spend your time on clients rather than social media marketing. For scheduling I recommend and use SmarterQueue.
#26: Audit Your Expenses
Doing a business audit can help identify items you’d like to spend less money on. Maybe you spend a lot on office supplies and want to scale back on expenses in that area. Take this opportunity to tighten up your finances. Look at money-wasters like unused subscriptions and shipping costs.
#27: Streamline and Document Your Processes
You know those processes that you do so regularly that they’re second-nature? It’s a great idea to document those processes when you have some downtime.
When things are slow, you may go a few months without performing a process. This could cause you to forget exactly how you did things. When you document a process, you ensure that it gets done right no matter how much time goes by.
Streamlining and document your processes is also helpful if you eventually want to bring another person (such as an Associate) onto your team or as part of your contingency plans.
#28: Think About Your Unique Niche
Figuring out what your niche is can help you better sell yourself to new clients. Think about your unique skills and personality and how you can use them.
It may seem negative to have a niche, as you probably want to be open to clients from all fields. However, having a niche can help you network and make you particularly appealing to certain clients.
Having a niche can even help you make more money! But at the same time please do not panic if you do not have a niche – a niche is a marketing tool.
#29: Tighten Up Your Paperwork
Do you have paperwork you send to clients, such as contracts? Consider sprucing it up a bit. Make sure to include your logo and your contact information. When was the last time you checked / reviewed your contracts, profile document, welcome pack etc – take a few minutes to review your own paperwork.
#30: Make a List of Goals
Despite the challenges of a slow business year, you still have a lot to be proud of as a virtual assistant. Take time to reflect and make a list of goals.
Where do you see yourself and your VA business in 10 years, 5 years, 3 year and 12 months from today.
Writing down your goals will remind you of who you are, why you became a virtual assistant, and how you should spend your time to obtain future goals.
Even when obstacles come your way and you have to adjust your timeline, having strong and relevant goals to work towards gives you the motivation to carry on, even in the toughest times. This can be a hugely motivating activity and it’s something that we do regularly as part of the VA Membership.
When business is slow, you can take plenty of actions to grow and improve your business. Although you can’t control everything, you can control how you respond to challenges and slow business periods. Invest in yourself, stay positive, and stay engaged! Now is the best time to focus on recharging yourself and making your business more competitive.
The VA Membership is the only UK VA business accelerator that’s designed specifically to help you build and grow your VA business, to help you create recurring revenue and consistent growth through regular and consistent action. With over 100+ hours of courses, weekly co-working sessions, weekly group coaching calls, a private support group and the ability to pay as you go – when you’re ready to grow or scale your business online, I can help you inside the VA.Membership.